DNR to buy parcel beside Army Lake

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Kevin Murphy
Thursday, May 24, 2012
— The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board on Wednesday narrowly approved paying $350,000 to buy 15.7 acres on Army Lake, giving the public access to the 78-acre lake north of the village of East Troy.

"There's no depth, and there's access to Lake Beulah (one-half mile west) on the same town road," said Jane Wiley, one of three board members to vote against the purchase.

DNR Real Estate Director Richard Steffes agreed that the price seemed steep.

"It's a lot of money for a small parcel on a small lake that (with a 17-foot maximum and 8-foot average depth) isn't deep. But southeast Wisconsin water frontage is going to be expensive."

Steffes couldn't explain the wide disparity in appraisals, which came in at $325,000 and $575,000, but he said competitive interest in the property caused the DNR to add $25,000 to the low appraisal to seal the deal.

Army Lake is a mile north of East Troy, and the property is on the west side of the lake. A half-mile driveway connects the property to St. Peter's Road in East Troy Township. The town board supports the DNR purchase, but DNR board member Terry Hilgenberg of Waupun said he could

not support the acquisition without a town contribution.

"The DNR board wants towns to step to the plate on purchases that benefit them locally," he said.

Board member Gregory Kazmierski of Pewaukee said he grew up in the area, and he believes getting public access to this water resource is worth the purchase price.

"It's a pretty little lake. The water is clear. This money pays for access where there is none," said Kazmierski, who owns an outfitters supply company.

Board member Christine Thomas, part of the four-member majority, agreed.

"This is a public lake on which there is no public access, and it's also located near the largest population concentration in the state," said Thomas, a UW-Stevens Point dean and professor.

The town owns an easement on the lake's west side that is undeveloped open space not suitable for a boat launch, Kim Buchanan, town clerk/treasurer, said in a phone interview.

"There's no public access to this lake, and the terrain of our easement just doesn't allow a landing to be put in," she said.

Seventy-five percent of Army Lake's shoreline is undeveloped. The Salvation Army of Chicago operates a summer camp on the east side, adjacent to a recreational vehicle park. Less than a dozen houses have access to the lake.

No timetable for construction has been set, but the DNR plans parking for five vehicle-trailer units and a handicap accessible spot.

Last updated: 8:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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